planning a wedding: diy?

- UPDATED POST - as i posted this, i worried that it would seem ungrateful. and i was right. after posting this, i realized that it didn't give off the right feel for what i actually wanted. so i've updated it in hopes that it will match my actual feelings towards my wedding & all of my wonderful family members that helped us make our wedding literally the perfect day!

there isn't much that i would change because everything came together perfectly. but i want to be more clear about the things that i would or would not change and WHY. 

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now, i'm all about saving dollars. truuuuust me. all about it. i read blog posts on instagram, pinterest, facebook, and twitter all of the time about saving money. seriously. i think i read at least three articles a day. so i feel like even though i'm not a financial professional like dave ramsey or jordan page, you can still trust me and my opinion. (or don't. do whatever your little heart desires...) 

something that i think is really important to remember as you read this post is the difference between SAVING MONEY and THE VALUE OF YOUR TIME, YOUR FAMILY'S TIME, STRESS LEVELS, AND HAPPINESS. is it truly worth it to save money if doing a seemingly simple DIY project ends up adding more stress to your wedding week? just think about that throughout this post.

as i was looking for wedding venues for places to hold our reception, i looked at A TON of different places but then decided on using a church because it was free. weighing the options wasn't hard. pay $2000 and have the place decorate with their stuff OR choose the "free" option and do everything myself (with the help of all of my closest family members and friends). 

let me tell you this one secret: IT WASN'T FREE. 

we spent basically the same amount of money on rentals and decorations that we would have spent for an all-inclusive venue. NOW: don't get me wrong, i would strongly recommend being picky and choosy with your venue. but don't be fooled by the "free" options. 

WOULD I CHANGE THIS? this one is hard, because everything did come together. AND all of the decorations we had were ones that i picked specifically. so no, i wouldn't change this-- despite the cost and time spent decorating.

we rented some of our decorations but we also bought quite a few things because even the rental prices were outrageous. 

[bistro lights]
$1.00+ for a foot of bistro lights? no, thank you. especially seeing that we would need almost 800 feet. yeah, no thanks. 


so we used money out of our budget to buy them. and then my wonderful father-in-law and dad put them up themselves the day before the wedding and the day of the nevada reception. it took my father-in-law over 7 hours to put up those lights.

WOULD I CHANGE THIS? probably yes. included in most of the rental fees was the cost of having someone put the lights up for you. the reason we didn't pick this was so that we could have the lights at both receptions. but after seeing how long it took to put up the lights, i think the rental fee was worth it.

did you know that in LDS church buildings open flames are NOT allowed? i didn't. my money saving method was going to be to use real candles. and then i learned that little fact. so i was like, "alright we'll just use flameless candles. they can't be that expensive." 

i was wrong. i was DEAD WRONG.

i almost died when i learned that one day in hobby lobby and then again at michael's when the prices were the same. and then AGAIN when i looked online and the prices just REFUSED to go down...

luckily, we were able to scrounge up enough to borrow so we were able to save some money there. 

WOULD I CHANGE THIS? yes and no. (is that fair? hahah) if i could, i would think of something else instead of candles, just to reduce the stress that it was to try and find them. no, because again, everything worked out in our favor and we were able to borrow some which was a HUGE blessing!

i got lucky with my centerpieces because my sisters were both on board to help make our mason jar beauts. 
my grandmother was lovely and was willing to help me find the adorable mini succulents and cacti. 

Photo by: Debby Leavitt Photography

HOWEVER, i searched high and low and made multiple trips to the D.I., searched Tai Pan's clearance section, and about drove parker crazy trying to find the little glass cups they were in. and then painting them was yet another fiasco that was supposed to be a "fifteen minute DIY project." (pinterest lies. it's a 15 minute project for those who have made HUNDREDS of them for their etsy shops... don't be fooled by time statements either)

WOULD I CHANGE THIS? i wouldn't change the centerpieces that my sisters made. i am SO grateful for the help that my sisters put in by making the lace-lined mason jars because that was one less thing i had to do! (my sisters are MUCH more crafty than i am...) i WOULD change the painting of the little glass jars if i knew how badly i would struggle in painting those little guys and i would have just kept them all unpainted.
i am also really grateful that my grandmother helped me find the perfect little tiny succulents & cacti! she knew right where to go! i wouldn't trade that experience for the world.

[vintage/old books]
this one has a little bit of a backstory. one time i went to a wedding where they had beautiful, color coordinated, old books as part of their wedding decor. i fell in love. but then because i'm a freak about details + i love books, i looked at the titles-- just to see what the books actually were; Repentance; Seduction and Romance; Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus; etc. the list went on. there were only about three books out of around twenty that i felt were appropriate for a wedding. repentance? i'm sure it was a wonderful book; it just wasn't one that i wanted at my wedding. 

fast forward to planning my wedding: i remembered this occasion and vowed to have books that matched my decor ONLY if their titles were wedding appropriate. 

i went to D.I. at least three times a week and came back with maybe one or two books each time. talk about discouraging. and stressful. when i only had 8 books with 7 days left till wedding time, i was frantic. luckily, i was able to find more books and work with what i had, but again, was the stress worth "saving a few dollars" and doing it myself?

WOULD I CHANGE THIS? yes. i would choose to not be so picky. finding books was not a problem. my pickiness was the problem. 

[wood chargers, centerpiece stands, & cupcake stands]
we really lucked out in this category because my parents' neighbor had literally JUST cut down two giant trees in their yard and they said we could have all of the wood that we wanted. for free. it was awesome. my wonderful dad cut and sanded over 100 wood slices for us. which saved us a lot of money because smaller wood slices usually run from $4-7 a piece and the larger wood slices can cost up to $17! so we were really lucky that my dad was willing to put in all of that hard work. but again, time is money.

photo by: Debby Leavitt Photography
photo by: Debby Leavitt Photography
photo by: Debby Leavitt Photography
WOULD I CHANGE THIS? this one is SO hard to decide. but i think again, i would choose to be less picky about how things "needed" to be done. i insisted on so many things and my dad, because he is the best dad in the world, worked so hard to make things perfect for us. i don't think i would change this-- at least completely. i think instead, i would just do less or not as many. but i have to say, i am incredibly grateful for all of the hard work that my dad put into those things. i think one of my most favorite things was having people ask what we were going to do with the wood chargers and if they could have them or borrow them for their own events. my dad seriously crushed it on that one!

[place settings]
this is my biggest... regret? ... i don't want to say regret because they turned out perfectly. this is my biggest word of caution. yeah, i'll say that. our place settings were a creation of my own imagination. (i'm sure there are place settings out there that look pretty much exactly like ours on pinterest or on the internet but i didn't see them. i really did think of this on my own!) but anyway. this was one of those projects where i thought to myself two months before the wedding, "oh that'll take like 2 hours. not a big deal at all." 

trust me. the week of your wedding, two hours is a big deal. and that's a LOT of time you could be spending on something else. like relaxing.

i mean, in honesty, i was right, it only took about two hours to get them done, but at that point in the week, i was sooooo done with wedding planning and preparations. i just wanted to be married. 
but i still had to make place settings wednesday night.

WOULD I CHANGE THIS? yes. 1000x yes. i would make them less fancy and just have put regular place-cards on the wood chargers. the writing of the tags took less than one episode of Gilmore Girls. the tying of the greenery was the stressful part. so i would definitely change that-- just to get rid of the wednesday night wedding week stress.
INVITATIONS. invitations were probably one of my better ideas in the whole DIY market. simply because they were one of the first things that needed to be done, so i was able to work on them right from the start. (okay, fine. i admit it. i might have practiced a few before we got engaged...) HOWEVER, if there is a style you like OR a person that hand-crafts beautiful (and affordable... some are REALLY expensive) announcements-- JUST PAY THEM TO DO IT or pick something more affordable. don't try and learn a new skill or craft just to save money on your wedding. just don't. i'm not trying to discourage you from learning new things-- always, always, always try to learn new things! but don't try and learn something new just to save money on your wedding. if you want to learn something-- like calligraphy or watercolor-- start learning now. not two weeks after you get engaged.

WOULD I CHANGE THIS? nope. this was really enjoyable & they turned out so well!

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so, you've read through this and you still want to DIY. props to you-- we have the same personality. stubborn as an ox. here are some tips to make your life easier as a DIY Bride.
1. borrow, borrow, borrow.  borrow where you can. if someone in your family owns something that you feel would be perfect for part of your decor, ASK! we had really great luck with borrowing. our grandmothers had so many things that fit right into our wedding decor and we were able to save some money by borrowing from them! [the flameless candles-- borrowed. and MUCH appreciated; vintage chairs-- borrowed. and very loved!] we were also able to borrow the arch that we stood under from one of my aunts and that saved us a lot of money as well! 
2. scrounge thrift stores and clearance sections of home decor stores and also, can be your bff.  although it took a TON of time and effort, i was in and out of the DI and Savers almost every other day-- looking for specific things. and that's the kicker. do not, and i repeat, DO NOT just go meandering through those stores without a purpose! you'll end up buying things you don't want/won't use. so be sure to have a purpose when you go and don't be afraid to leave empty handed!
3. ask your friends.  if your friend has a certain skill-- baking, photography, videography, etc.-- ask them if they'd be willing to help you with your special day. HOWEVER, do not just expect a discount. Be willing to pay full price. If they offer you a discount, then awesome. But please be aware that whatever you are asking them to do IS something they do for other people for the price they gave to you. They are trying to run a business. If their prices are out of your range, then don't use that specific person. Find someone within your price range. 
4. be willing to let go of some ideas. i think every bride has to do this with one thing or another, but especially when you're a DIY Bride. for example, i wanted to have all different wood tables and chairs brought in (like dinner tables. like 13 dinner tables) to use as our tables. after planning for three to four weeks, i realized the amount of work and resources (trucks, trailers, man power) that would have taken and realized that it simply wasn't a possibility and that i would have to have regular tables with tablecloths. (my sister still makes fun of me because i asked if there was a way to make tablecloths look "less tableclothy") but in the end, our tables looked beautiful. even with tablecloths.
5. rent things.
one of the best things you can do for your DIY wedding is to rent things that are already made & look the way you want them to. one less project really can make a HUGE difference. and hey! we have great news for you! WE have started renting out wedding decorations for c-h-e-a-p CHEAP because rentals CAN get expensive and that's lame. our rentals can be found here.

6. take breaks.
seriously, take breaks from planning your wedding. go on dates with your love. watch a movie. take a bath. go for a run. i don't know, do whatever calms you down and relaxes you. it's hard to take advice #6 if you're stressed 157% of the time. so take a break. you deserve it. 

7. enjoy it. my biggest piece of advice. if you take no other advice from this post, take this. enjoy every minute. be kind to your sweet fiancé. he's just trying to make you happy-- even when he throws out seemingly outrageous ideas. make it fun. when things don't work out, don't worry about it. you probably won't care by the time your wedding comes anyway. so just enjoy all of the seconds you get to plan your wedding! 
i hope your wedding day is everything you hoped for and more! and congratulations on getting engaged! but i'll be real: being married is WAY better than being engaged, so look forward to being married because it is so much fun!
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